[To the herdsman.]
Herdsman, do thou
Console my wife if I should come to grief.
I could not choose but do as I have done.
[He leaps into the boat.]
KUONI (to the fisherman).
A pretty man to keep a ferry, truly!
What Tell could risk, you dared not venture on.
Far better men would never cope with Tell.
There’s no two such as he ’mong all our hills.
WERNI (who has ascended a rock).
Now he is off. God help thee, gallant sailor!
Look how the little boat reels on the waves!
KUONI. (on the shore).
There! they have swept clean over it. And now
’Tis out of sight. Yet stay, there ’tis again!
Stoutly he stems the breakers, noble fellow!
Here come the troopers hard as they can ride!
Heavens! so they do! Why, that was help, indeed.
[Enter a troop of horsemen.]
Give up the murderer! You have him here!
This way he came! ’Tis useless to conceal him!
RUODI and KUONI.
Whom do you mean?
1ST H. (discovering the boat).
The devil! What do I see?
WERNI (from above).
Is’t he in yonder boat ye seek? Ride on,
If you lay to, you may o’ertake him yet.
Curse on you, he’s escaped!
1ST H. (to the shepherd and fisherman).
And you shall pay for it! Fall on their herds!
Down with the cottage! burn it! beat it down!
[They rush off.]
SEPPI (hurrying after them).
Oh my poor lambs!
KUONI (following him).
Unhappy me, my herds!
RUODI (wringing his hands).
Righteous Heaven! Oh, when will come
Deliverance to this doom-devoted land?
A lime tree in front of STAUFFACHER’s house at Steinen, in Schwytz, upon the public road, near a bridge.
WERNER STAUFFACHER, and PFEIFFER, of Lucerne, enter into conversation.
Ay, ay, friend Stauffacher, as I have said,
Swear not to Austria, if you can help it.
Hold by the Empire stoutly as of yore,
And God preserve you in your ancient freedom!
[Presses his hand warmly and is going.]
Wait till my mistress comes. Now do! You
My guest in Schwytz—I in Lucerne am yours.
Thanks! thanks! But I must reach Gersau today.
Whatever grievances your rulers’ pride
And grasping avarice may yet inflict,
Bear them in patience—soon a change may come.
Another Emperor may mount the throne.
But Austria’s once, and you are hers forever.